The outgoing head of the Internal Revenue Service – who was fired this week by U.S. President Barack Obama – was grilled by lawmakers in Washington, D.C. regarding his agency’s practice of targeting limited government groups.
“We were repeatedly told no such targeting was happening,” U.S. Rep. Dave Camp (R-Michigan) told acting IRS director Steven Miller. “That isn’t being misled, that’s lying.”
“I did not mislead Congress or the American people,” Miller fired back. “I think what happened here is that foolish mistakes were made by people trying to be more efficient in their workload selection.”
Wait … what? That evasive, dismissive answer sounds eerily reminiscent of the IRS’ original response to this scandal – a failed attempt to try and isolate the discrimination and pass the buck down the food chain.
Initially, the IRS claimed its discriminatory behavior regarding tax-exempt applications was confined to low level employees in a single office. It was later learned that this office handles all tax-exempt applications – and that the singling out of conservative groups was official policy, not some “random error.” Also, it has since been established that the agency’s targeting of conservative groups was much broader than initially suspected – and that this discrimination was widely known to agency leadership nearly two years before the scandal broke.
Yet nothing was done … why?
Well, for starters because the agency was too busy covering it up.
In fact Miller himself testified during a July 2012 hearing that the agency was not discriminating against groups on the basis of their ideological orientation – claims he repeated in a letter to a lawmaker.
“You did not share the information you knew,” U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Washington) accused Miller, referring to his 2012 testimony.
“I answered all questions truthfully,” Miller replied.
Speaking of “truth,” the IRS now admits that it planted the question that kicked off this scandal a week ago – during a question and answer session involving one of its top bureaucrats at the American Bar Association (ABA).
Miller couldn’t tell lawmakers why the ABA found out about the discrimination before Congress. Nor was he willing to identify anyone responsible for it.
“I don’t have that name,” he testified when asked who was responsible for administering the policy.
Congressional Republicans have been moving quickly to politicize the IRS scandal – as if it needed any help in that regard – including efforts to tie the issue to Obamacare, which will be implemented in large part by the IRS.
In fact in its coverage of this week’s congressional hearings, the left-leaning New York Times wrote about how the inquiry “quickly turned into partisan jousting.”
All of this is why we believe Obama must appoint an independent special prosecutor … something he is obviously reluctant to do in light of the broad discretion such a prosecutor would have in terms of investigating his administration and compelling the production of documents and testimony.